Reading about celebrity scandals and Oprah’s latest diet can be fun, but not so much in the checkout line. You know the story: too many items for the express lane, so now you’re waiting behind a guy buying a cart full of Hungry Man TV dinners. It’s an excruciating wait, even if you have 9 lives. If curiosity killed the cat, checkout lines were a close second.
However, thanks to Grabango, the days of long lines and paper or plastic? are over. Today, the Berkeley-based company is bagging $12 million in Series A funding to lead the cashierless revolution and ensure your hummus is still fresh when you leave the store.
It’s an impressive response to Amazon’s rumored plans of opening up 3,000 Amazon Go locations by 2021, which has multiple startups jostling for a top-shelf spot in the space. But Grabango is the only one with industrial-size scale, designed to work in stores with more than 100,000 square feet of floor space and able to track hundreds of shoppers at once. Needless to say, Ridge Ventures, and other investors, were impressed enough to give Grabango the Green Light Special.
Grabango rhymes with “mango” and is ready to bear fruit thanks to this latest round led by Propel Venture Partners, with participation from Ridge Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Commerce Ventures, and Founders Fund. Grabango now staffs a team of 37 retail revolutionaries and has raised a total of $18 million. The company plans to use the funds for product development and client store expansions.
Will Glaser, co-founder and former CTO of Pandora, launched Grabango in 2016 to save people time by eliminating checkout lines. The service is free to use, benefits all shoppers, and, remarkably, doesn’t require a smartphone — instead, Grabango’s computer vision and machine learning systems maintain a virtual basket for each shopper. Furthermore, automatic checkout means shoppers can leave without manually scanning their items. After all, checking yourself out is what mirrors are for.😎
“Our goal is to forever change the way people interact with things. We don’t want to be the center of attention, but rather for our systems to work so smoothly in the background they are completely taken for granted,” said Will Glaser, Grabango’s Founder and CEO.
🤜 🥇The company is certainly receiving attention from its competitors given that Grabango has 17 patents pending and inked four clients that serve more than 600 million shoppers per year, likely a byproduct of Grabango’s position as the only enterprise-class solution in the sector.
Aside from Grabango’s scalability and high fault tolerance, the bulk of processing is performed on-site by a dedicated PC. The company’s proprietary item-tracking cameras are lightweight and relatively inexpensive as well, reducing the cost of install. Far from your grandma’s Polaroid, these cameras can tell the difference between a can of Coke and a can of Diet Coke. (Or Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, for those with inferior taste buds.)
Retail stores stand to benefit from Grabango’s increased vision coverage, which helps Grabango generate accurate three-dimensional floor plans and reduce the chance a purchase isn’t recognized due to occlusion. The seamless customer experience starts with Grabango’s algorithms that are trained using reinforcement learning, an AI training technique that recognizes objects with 99.9% accuracy. It even works through elemental changes such as lighting conditions, as well as branding changes (like when Coke releases its holiday packaging) –– all in real time.
For grocery shopping purists in need of human connection, Grabango-powered stores retain their existing cashier setups. Shoppers have two options:
1⃣ checking out conventionally with cash, a credit or debit card, or SNAP benefits; or,
2⃣ opting into a cashierless experience with Grabango’s app. In the latter case, checkout is automatic — customers can walk out without scanning a barcode or confirming that they’ve finished shopping.
That’s right, grocers and convenience store chains, Grabango is here to level the playing field. It’s time to check out of checkout, and check in to the cashierless revolution.
Want to join the revolution? Take a look at Grabango’s open positions and drop them a line!